DAVID CAVANAGH The Creation Records Story My Magpie Eyes Are Hungry For The Prize (Virgin)
On contemplating the size of this doorstop biography of Alan McGee's Creation Records - at nearly 800 pages it's a hefty tome, even in paperback - you might wonder exactly what some little indie label might have done to justify such thorough investigation. The answer is in the cover photograph: on a lookalike Creation credit card, casually placed next to a pile of anonymous white powder, the illustration is a picture of Noel Gallagher shaking one hand with Tony Blair, wine glass in the other, whilst Alan McGee scowls in the background. That single image sums up exactly how far this little indie label managed to penetrate into the collective subconscious of a nation, an image that is arguably, if undeservedly, more powerful than any number of the fantastic records that Creation birthed during its' 17 year existence.
"My Magpie Eyes Are Hungry For The Prize" charts the growth of Creation from its roots in Glasgow's non-punk scene of the mid-70s and the crucial formative years of pioneering indie labels such as Postcard, Cherry Red and Rough Trade. It gathers pace with McGee's signing and management of the incendiary ball of feedback, leather, violence and confusion that was the early Jesus And Mary Chain, loops around the fair a few times with mid-period marvels such as My Bloody Valentine, Ride, Teenage Fanclub, The Boo Radleys and the perennial Primal Scream before launching into the home stretch with McGee's discovery, on 31 May 1993, of a certain Mancunian quintet who had blagged their way onto the bottom of the bill at an 18 Wheeler gig in Glasgow's King Tut's Wah Wah Hut. And really, from that moment on, the book becomes the most thrilling marketing manual you're ever likely to read, a white-knuckle ride of physical and financial collapse and political shenanigans.
Cavanagh's magpie eye for detail means that you have to stay reasonably alert to cope with the density of his sources and the constantly revolving and reshuffling pack of characters that orbit around McGee, but the fact that Creation Records were responsible for some of the most astonishing music of the last two decades helps the reader stay focussed. "My Magpie Eyes Are Hungry For The Prize" is a marvellous book: it details the growth of independent record labels and their gradual infection of the mainstream, it winds around the progress of some of this country's greatest post-punk bands and maps the career, so far, of our music industry's most charismatic mavericks.